"Uniting Christian & Jewish Clergy from Around the World"
There are too many children growing up dysfunctional because they have been exposed to violence in the home at a young age. These children have either witnessed violence and abuse or were victims themselves and never gotten any treatment or dealt with it. That is why children that comes from a domestic violence and abuse household are said to be “the forgotten victims” (“A survey of 6,000 American families found that 50 percent of men who assault their wives, also abuse their children. Pagelow, "The Forgotten Victims: Children of Domestic Violence," 1989” - http://www.acadv.org/children.html - this information is no longer on the website).
The parents or someone else have told the child to “suck it up,” “deal with it,” or “get over it” but it is not that simple – the child and no one else can get over the effects of childhood domestic violence and abuse by themselves!!
Once the child has experienced domestic violence and abuse in the home or in their environment, he/she will grow up thinking domestic violence and abuse is normal behavior in a family. This way of thinking will cause the child to become either the abuser or victim of domestic violence and abuse when he/she grows up. Here are two sources that will confirm what I just said is true (my life and many other women I have counseled is also proof):
1. Circle of Hope web site (http://www.gacircleofhope.org/effects_on_children.html - information no longer on site): “Children who grow up in abusive homes may become abusers or victims in their own They learn from an important male role model that violence toward a loved one is acceptable. Children who live in violent homes are affected even if they are not the appointed targets of abuse. Parents often think that their children are not aware of what is going on at home but from very early ages, they generally know or sense what is happening. Children who are in crisis as a result of abuse or violence in their homes may or may not be able to openly talk about their anxieties, fears and concerns and often act out these feelings and give non-verbal clues. Problem behaviors are not unusual for children in crisis, especially those from violent homes. It is important to recognize these types of behaviors for what they are - a way of communicating how they are feeling. Their behaviors are good indicators of how they are coping.”
2. Annette Nay, Ph.D., in her article “Living with an Abuser,” said this, “Men who abuse women, do so to control them because they do not or will not control themselves.” WOW!! That’s POWERFUL!! Abusing others is usually a learned behavior. Children that grow up with an abuser in the home tend to become abusers themselves because this is what was modeled for them. This behavior becomes the way to handle life and its problems. Children in homes where abuse is going on are learning this behavior now!
The girls are learning to be doormats to become abused in the future if not already being abused by the male abuser in their home. The boys are learning to be abusers because that is how they see this is how they are to treat women.
No matter how lousy the home life for children living with an abuser, this home life becomes the template of what home is. When the child looks for a mate, subconsciously s/he searches for the opposite part of the equation that will reenact the home life atmosphere. Example: The little girl sees mother verbally, emotionally, and/or physically abused. The child subconsciously searches for a mate that will abuse her as Father did mother, even though she desperately wants to get out of her home of origin because of the abuse. The reason for this is that this is what a normal home life looks like to her, she knows no other. A happy loving relationship is foreign She will be abused, feel worthless, and her children will learn these behaviors and continue the cycle one generation after another.”
It is imperative as the parent to give and show your child(ren) the love and care they need while they are young! It is the parent’s responsibility to let their child(ren) know they love them and will protect them no matter what!!! This is to the parents: if you are still in the abusive relationship, not only do you need a safety plan but your child(ren) need one (will discuss in more detail later and give you a sample plan for you and your child).
This information that I will be sharing with you over the next couple of weeks will show you what happens in detail to your child(ren) when they are victims of or witness domestic violence and abuse. This detailed explanation will help you decide whether you will stay with your abuser or leave; you will see the effects your decision will have on your child(ren) in the long run. Remember, your child(ren) safety is at stake!!! The choice is yours and you as a parent also have a responsibility to protect your child(ren) from ANY hurt, harm or danger – DO NOT CHOOSE THE ABUSER OVER YOUR CHILD(REN)!!! If you do, it will cause dire consequences for you and them!
I know from experience that when a person is in an abusive relationship they cannot think straight; their mind is wavy. But when their child(ren) is in danger, that should cause their parental instinct to kick in enough for them to seek help for the child(ren) which in turn will get help for them also. Therefore, I beseech (plead with) you to seek direction from God to get you out of that abusive relationship!! Pray to Him so He can lead you to the right people, agency, church, clergy, etc. (whatever way He wants to use to bring you out). I know God will bring you out because He brought me out of seven abusive marriages and numerous abusive relationships (family, so called friends, etc.). Know that you are not alone!! God cares what happen to you! He did not put you that abusive relationship; that was your choice, but He is there to get you out.
When I said it was your choice, I am not saying abuse is your choice. You got into that relationship looking for love and happiness but the guy (or woman if you are a man) deceived you and were most likely sociopaths so now they are abusing you. It is not your fault! You do not deserve to be abused!!
I know about making the wrong decision in choosing a mate; I chose seven to marry and they all ended up deceiving me and abusing me. All I am saying is don’t allow them to continue to deceive you! Think of your child(ren)! The decision you make will affect them too!! There have been too many abusive relationships ending in tragedy – abuser killed the whole family and then his/herself!
ABUSE IS NOT LOVE!! This is the basic definition of the word “abuse” from dictionary.com:
1. To use wrongly or improperly; misuse
2. To treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way
3. To speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about; revile; malign
4. To commit sexual assault
5. Obsolete - to deceive or mislead
6. Harshly or coarsely insulting language
7. Bad or improper treatment; maltreatment
You do not deserve to be treated this way!!! Dr. Myles Munroe said, “When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable” and that is so true! It is apparent that the abuser does not know the purpose of the person, or the relationship he/she is in! They do not know how valuable you are to God!! If they did, they would not abuse you!! You are very valuable to God! He made you in His image (Genesis 1:27) for His glory! Not to be abused! Don’t subject yourself and your child(ren) to an abusive environment! It is not worth it! Staying in an abusive relationship will destroy you and your child(ren)! Know also that God loves you and your child(ren) and He made you’ll fearfully and wonderfully (Psalms 139:14). Again, God does not want you’ll to be abused!!!!
Next section posted will be "Domestic Violence Series - Section 1 - Part 1B - Introduction" on Thursday July 9th.
Dr. Dorothy E. Hooks